Shanice Williams knew The Wiz Live was going to be special after director Kenny Leon delivered a riveting prayer that affirmed what she had known since the first day of rehearsal, ‘this is going to be amazing and that’s what happened.’
The New Jersey native auditioned to be in The Wiz Live after reading about the casting online. Inexperienced for such a major role, Shanice thought of the audition process as a learning experience.
‘I never imagined that I would actually get the part,’ she explained. ‘After a while, when I finally realized I could actually get this part it was just like me giving my all and trying to believe in myself and just laying it all on the table.’
Shanice, up against more experienced Broadway actresses, went into the audition channeling Audra McDonald‘s ability to tell a story through song.
‘When I went in there, I said ‘I’m going to try my best to sing like this.’ But my one thing was to tell a story while I was singing, which is why I admire Audra McDonald so much, because she never just sings, she always tells a story while she’s singing.’
She added, ‘That’s what I came in on my first day doing. That’s one of the things that set me apart.’
Shanice relied on her real life experiences and connection to Dorothy to perfect her character. ‘There’s nothing classical about Dorothy,’ she said. ‘We all have that time in our lives when we’re struggling to find out who we are and where we belong. I relate to her in so many ways, that part was easy.’
And easy is how it appeared. Shanice was charming as an innocent yet sassy Dorothy, bringing a modern twist to the beloved role.
‘On the night of the show, everything was so fresh. I felt like I was going on this journey for the first time, like I was meeting those friends and going through those things.’
After the hype surrounding The Wiz Live settled, Shanice returned to Jersey and relaxed with her dogs.